Google Plus Post Rank Hijacking

Somebody at Google likes me. I swear, I’m not paying them anything!

Back in June of 2012 I first posted about what I saw as a flaw in the way Google indexes Google+ posts that are re-shares of other users’ posts. Since at least the spring of that year I’d found that I could very, very often beat almost anyone on Google+ in the incognito Google rankings for a post of their that I reshared, searching for the first line of the post, which is what Google seems to treat like the title tag of a web page. It’s important to note that when you do a reshare on Google+, you are creating a new web page that entirely contains the content of the original post. In essence, you are “legally” scraping their page.

For the past few days I’ve been testing this out by resharing a post from the What’s Hot page (posts that are currently going viral with lots of engagement). Every single time I’ve ended up having a search result that either ranks higher, or completely knocks out the original poster. (Google usually doesn’t rank high more than a few G+ posts for the same content, and often only shows one.)

Here’s a post documenting my domination of a popular photographer who has over 1.5 million followers on G+ (I have close to 30,000).

In discussions of this on Google+, someone challenged me to go up against a heavy hitter who, like me, uses Google Authorship (since there was a theory in the discussion that I was beating the others because I use Authorship and they don’t).

So when I saw Google+ super user Mike Elgan have a post go to What’s Hot today, I had my challenge. Mike has over 2 million followers on G+, and is one of those rare people who posts more than I do on the platform. His posts regularly get hundreds or even thousands of +1s, reshares, and comments.

Here’s the timeline tonight after I let Mike’s post sit at the top of Google for his title for 10 full hours:

9:33 AM Mike Elgan creates post, which quickly goes viral

Elgan’s #1 rank at 8:30 PM (10 hrs at #1)

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Mark Traphagen reshares Elgan’s post at 8:31 PM

8:39 PM Scot Duke reshares Elgan’s post

Scot Duke at 8:42 PM, takes away Elgan’s spot

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At 8:53, just 11 minutes later, Mark Traphagen takes the spot from Duke

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I’m writing this at 9:40 PM, and my post remains at #1 with Elgan’s now near the bottom of page 2.

I am at a loss to explain why my profile does this.

UPDATE the next morning: Just checked, indeed Mike Elgan reclaimed the #1 spot in the SERP for his own post. I have finally met my match.

So it appears that a profile of sufficient strength can overcome my reshare outrank in the end. But it has to be Mike Elgan strong. My posts against many other users, even those with huge followings, remain in the top spot.

In the comments below, Dan Petrovic attributes this to QDF. QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) is at play here, no doubt, But….that still doesn’t explain why it is MY profile that is able (in most cases) outlast all the other sharers, and even the OP, or in this case, at least usurp the spot from the OP longer than any other resharer. There is still more at play with the strength of my profile than can just be explained by QDF.

Also, sharp observer Al Remetch noticed that at about the same time I gave up my spot back to Mike Elgan, my Virante blog post about this incident started ranking on page 1 for the same exact match keyword. As Al remarked, that may also have contributed to (or even be the reason for) my G+ post getting knocked out, as G+ posts are always going to be weaker than my blog posts, and Google seems to often (but not always) want to show only one result connected to my Authorship account for these kinds of searches.

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Google Plus Post Rank Hijacking by

Mark is Director of Digital Outreach for Virante Inc. Mark helps businesses build strategies to increase brand influence and attract natural links and social signals. He has a special reputation as an expert on Google+ and Google Authorship. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web.

Comments

  1. It makes a difference if you search for the post title in quotes vs without quotes. While searching in quotes, Mike’s original post gets top ranking. Without, no.

    The funny thing is, Mike Elgan doesn’t even get Authorship attribution when I search for that post title without quotes. incognito window or no. It shows up on the 2nd page of results.

    When searching for “Yeah, It’s called the ‘iPotty’” (not in quotes) while logged in to Google, your re-share comes up first, but with the title “Let’s get the potty started” with no post excerpt. In an incognito window, it displays with the original post’s title and excerpt.

  2. Very interesting, freshness would be a heavy ranking factor, it looks a little odd not to prioritize the main poster in SERPs.

    BTW Mark Elgan is first (with attribution) on mine also, both with or without quotes & same on incognito.

  3. QDF

    • Yes, Dan, QDF (Query Deserves Freshness) is at play here, no doubt, But….that still doesn’t explain why it is MY profile that is able (in most cases) outlast all the other sharers, and even the OP, or in this case, at least usurp the spot from the OP longer than any other resharer. There is still more at play with the strength of my profile than can just be explained by QDF.

  4. Thanks for the further observations guys. See my UPDATE at the bottom of the post for my observations on Mike’s retaking the main result overnight. Al Remetch threw another monkey wrench into the mix: this post started ranking for the same query, and based on past experience, that could be the reason that my G+ post dropped out.

    The only conclusion we can have right now is that how this works in Google remains weird.

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